Monday, 29 July 2013

Babette's Feast: Creation, Serving and Eating

Of all the movies I have seen (and I have seen quite a number), Babette's Feast resonates most strongly with my internal experience.

While the theme of sacrifice doesn't match my own, the other themes of intense preparation and cooking, as well as sharing your efforts with diners hits a deep chord in me.

Since I first learned to eat, my mother tells me I have been an exceptional eater.  I have no doubt this is true.  For me, the satisfaction from eating can be found along a spectrum: from the truly mundane (as in, "I'm so hungry I must eat (almost anything)") to the transcendent and the intense focus a truly wonderful dish can bring.

Let me address the three themes in the title.

Creation: By this I mean the construction of a particular set of dishes. A meal should be an ensemble of tastes.  And these tastes can only be assembled by considering how the flavors will blend together.  Most meals I serve has this in mind.  What ingredients are fresh right now? Is the meal balanced?  Are all the food groups supplied?  Does the main have a complement?  If not, what can I add that will complement the main?  Additionally, what wine(s) can complement the food?  When a character of the wine matches the dish, it can augment and push the dish into a different realm.

Serving: Cooking is sharing.  I image that anyone who enjoys cooking also enjoys the act of sharing their efforts.  Serving is simply "Here is this meal, which I created for your enjoyment.  Please enjoy!"  And, of course, I  also created it for my own personal enjoyment, but that doesn't give me the same satisfaction.

Eating: As mentioned before, eating can provoke a number of different sensations.  But for me, when eating with friends, I often find my enjoyment multiplied.  In Babette's Feast, it's the combination of  extraordinary food, exceptional wines and deep conversation that creates a truly transcendental experience.  Yes, such meals are few and far between in one's life.  But when they happen, you know it.  You arise the next morning and feel elevated and residually happy.  If all meals were like that no doubt we would feel jaded.  But they are not.  And so, let us celebrate these meals when they happen.

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